Beauty in American Culture
The American culture’s beauty standards have high expectations for what physical appearance should look like. The standards of beauty have evolved throughout human history. An individual is classified as conventionally beautiful in the eyes of the people in America based on trends in appearance and fads in body shapes (Gorman 159). Due to their abnormally stunning good features, Brad Pitt and Marlon Brando, as well as women like Kate Moss and Marilyn Monroe, have dominated the acknowledged sphere of beauty during the previous two centuries. Although these are instances of what is deemed beautiful, the average American is unable and does not meet the requirements of this standard. Americans, especially young people, have idealized and fantastical ideas of what they would be like if they were more attractive or slimmer (Gorman 159). But what does being attractive in American culture truly mean? What criteria do individuals use to judge if someone is attractive?
Despite a social drive towards diversity and inclusiveness, Americans are constantly exposed to representations of the White standard. Similar to how American culture has extended over the globe, so too have the unattainable aesthetic standards that Americans admire (Gorman 159). Various factors form the Western world’s standards of beauty. For example, Western beauty dictates that women are predominantly valued for their appearance and that women’s value is mostly determined by how well they conform to American society’s standards of beauty. The media, consumer goods, and even our public offices all reflect the American standards that already have emerged to dominate beauty conventions; these standards include Slim bodies, white porcelain complexion, and blue eyes, as well as narrow noses and lips (Gorman 159). Women worldwide are developing eating disorders, low self-esteem, and psychiatric health problems due to these specific and constantly shifting expectations. A person’s self and body image are influenced by nationality, race, and environment.
In conclusion, the standards of beauty in American culture have high demands for what physical beauty should reflect. Being White, blue-eyed, young, skinny, and attractive has long been considered the American standard of beauty. This particular set of standards leads Americans to pursue an unrealistic level of beauty. Those born in the US, who define themselves as White, and who have a Western culture would perceive themselves as more beautiful than those who were not born in the US, who consider themselves Non-White, and who have a Non-Western lifestyle.
Gorman, Ed. “Beauty,” These Guns for Hire, edited by J.A. Konrath, Bleak House Books, 2006, 157-164.